Tips to Utilize Facebook to Drive Your Restaurant Marketing

Social network web site surfing concept illustrationWhat are the different ways a restaurant can advertise through social media?

Social media has been one of the hottest topics in marketing for the last few years and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Having a strong social presence is going to be important for any brand but there are ways to utilize these platforms for your restaurant brand no matter how big or small you are (and no matter your budgets).  Luckily, anyone from McDonald’s to the little mom and pop diner down the street can take advantage of Facebook’s paid advertising offerings.  Facebook offers a multitude of different campaign objectives that are a great fit specifically for restaurant marketing.

Looking to drive restaurant visits?

There’s two great options for you if you’re trying to get consumers into your restaurant – the Store Visits objective and the Reach objective.  Both options give you the opportunity to promote your location, show your restaurant on a map, and have CTAs like “Get Directions” or “Call Now”.  Giving the consumer the information they need to get to your location is a great starting point for driving restaurant visits.

The Reach objective is more focused on driving awareness and reaching as many potential customers as possible while the Store Visits objective is focused on actually confirming that someone who has seen your ad visited your location.  This reporting aspect of this offering isn’t available for all advertisers but can be great validation for your advertising efforts if your brand can take advantage of it.

Looking to drive online orders?

Facebook’s Conversion objective is simple to implement and can increase your reach for online ordering if your restaurant offers that feature.  With the placement of Facebook’s pixel you can gain great insight to some of your on-site metrics and then optimize your Facebook campaign to those metrics.  For example, you can track online orders and pass back the revenue to determine which of your ads is driving the best ROAS.

Outside of tracking purchases, you can also set up the pixel to track any online actions that are important to you.  If you want consumers to visit your store locator once they are on your site, you can set up the pixel to fire when they land on that page.  All of these metrics will be available to you within the Facebook UI to help tell the overall social marketing story for your brand.

Looking for your customers to engage with your brand?

Some restaurants like to focus on getting new page likes, post likes, comments, and shares from their audience and can use the Post Engagement objective to optimize campaigns for these actions.  This starts with having great content to share that people are going to want to engage with.  A timely message around an upcoming holiday or a great image of your top-selling menu item can really resonate with social audiences.

Facebook has a long list of other campaign objectives and is always working to bring new ideas to advertisers so it’s important to stay up to date on new social trends.  In addition to Facebook, all of these objectives are also available on Instagram which is growing in popularity especially among millennials.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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Add To-Go or Delivery to Boost your Restaurant Marketing

to go .jpg

Coupling to-go or delivery with online or mobile app ordering opens up an entirely new area of restaurant marketing.

The Goldman Sachs 2017 restaurant sector outlook paints a grim picture for the category. According to their statement, the category headwinds are driven primarily by a decrease in consumer discretionary cash flow from 4.4% to 3.9%. Rising and uncertain healthcare costs, as well as rising energy costs, mean that the typical American diner will have fewer occasions to dine out and will end up spending less because they simply have less to spend.

The full-service chains seem to be most at risk due to the combination of rising minimum wages, potentially higher food costs resulting from reductions in free trade and the decrease of consumer discretionary cash. This has the potential to create a perfect storm for the category.

But how can a full-service chain weather all of those challenges and succeed in 2017? Assuming your operations are running efficiently, you should focus on building a robust to-go or delivery business.

Why does a delivery or to-go business help? First, it helps because you can increase your trade area without investing heavily in additional locations and infrastructure. Second, you will be more convenient for customers who feel like they are saving money by dining at home. Third, to-go and delivery orders are measurably higher than comparable in-restaurant checks.

Finally, coupling to-go or delivery with online or mobile app ordering opens up an entirely new area of restaurant marketing. No longer is success measured in just in-restaurant benefits. Now, it’s about true customer convenience.

There are certainly considerations associated with these capabilities such as delivery driver insurance, ensuring food travel, customization of orders, etc. However, given the substantial headwinds outlined above, the upside is well worth the investment and could be what puts full-service chains in a position to win against fast food.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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Target Millennials With Your Modern Day Restaurant Marketing

millennials .jpgIn a world where Millennials rule, efficient methods of restaurant marketing must cater to a more educated and stimulated audience.

Millennials are driven by creativity and the desire for a personalized experience; look at their Instagram feed and you’ll see the reflection of their ‘unique selves’.

Being the ‘special unicorns’ that they are – a term coined by the Huffington Post in 2013 – Millennial expectations often exceed reality: they feel entitled to quality experiences. Due to this, restaurants need to be constantly putting their best foot forward in terms of appearance and reputation. This all starts internally, within the very walls of the restaurant itself. ”Cleanliness is next to Godliness” has never been more true when looking at the following list of reasons that disparage repeat restaurant visits from these ‘special unicorns’.

Based on a survey conducted by Harris Poll of 2,034 U.S. Millennials, the top five factors that turned diners away from a restaurant were:

  • Dirty surfaces
  • Unpleasant/foul smelling orders
  • Unkempt/dirty restrooms
  • Slippery/dirty floors
  • Entryway/exterior cleanliness

It seems a bit rudimentary that a restaurant would host a clean dining environment, however this is made even more important considering that Millennials love to ‘gram’ their food. With expectations already set for a quality experience, clean dining is monumentally important. Additionally, the décor must also feed into the overall dining experience. By creating an environment that is out of the ordinary, a restaurant can turn dining into an event.

Further, the dimensionality of the dining experience by incentivizing guests to engage with the restaurant through photos. Create a hashtag, repost pictures taken by diners and encourage creativity through individualized recognition on the restaurant’s owned Instagram. Certainly, these ‘special unicorns’ will not be able to resist a restaurant marketing tactic such as this – a tactic that embraces, plays to, recognizes and encourages their creativity and uniqueness.

Creativity can be further played to by capturing the process of day-to-day activities done in the front of house/back of house arenas. Share the experience of the work and passion that goes into the restaurant – share the things guests never get to see and create a real human connection out of the work that is constantly done.

Through utilizing Instagram, restaurants can capture Millennials in real time with authentic content, while also playing to their creativity and sense of special uniqueness. Restaurants are able to further employ individualized attention to their guests through the platform of Instagram by encouraging guests to photograph their experience with the intention of reposting their photo.

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Your Online Restaurant Marketing Can Help Build Lasting Customer Relationships

Cafeteria Good Food Critic Review Tablet Technology ConceptUse social media and online marketing to connect with your customers.

When people hear the word ‘restaurant marketing,’ words like BOGO, table tents and Happy Hour specials start to come to mind. While all of those things are great tools for encouraging your guests to dine with you, they are a one-to-many vehicle for communication.

Here are some really easy and quick ways to start building a personal relationship with your guests:

  1. Social Platforms – Are you present on the usual suspects such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat?

Social is so rich with information on your guests and what they like and don’t like about your restaurant and the general zeitgeist. Think about surprising and delighting some of your best influencers with their favorite menu item (which you would know because you are paying attention). That guest will be yours for years to come and encourage others to come with.

Try reposting and tagging photos that your customers are sharing of your food. This will show that you are paying attention and appreciate their business.

  1. Email Marketing – Sure, some have shunned their inboxes for short-form texts, but according to eMarketer there are still over 240MM email users with median ROIs of 122% – the inbox is not dead, folks. 

The great thing about email is that your guest has raised their hand and said they want to engage with you on a deeper level. The last thing you want to do is screw that up by offering generic newsletter updates and offers only.

Get personal here – this is an area where your guests are OK with you looking at the data and providing a custom experience. Does your guest prefer beer or hard liquor? Do they have kids, if yes, how old are they? What is their kid’s favorite menu item? Don’t know? Well, there is still time to start down that journey with your guests.

  1. Content Marketing – Today, advertising and marketing is all about exchanging value with your guests. Bring them in to your world by sharing stories and they will likely share some back.

Showcase your staff and their stories – the ‘why’ behind their passion for working at your restaurant. Talk about the chef and the cooks and what excites them about food. Make the experience with your restaurant more than transactional and your guests will view it as a relationship not easily replaced by the cheaper and more convenient competition down the street.

In the current age of digital and social media, one-to-one conversations are happening and if you aren’t already taking advantage of this change in consumer behavior then your competition has probably snuck in and started doing it for you.

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Four Ways to Use Your Restaurant Marketing to Create Grand Opening “Buzz”

news word written by ketchup on a plateHere are four cost-effective tips to drive interest in your restaurant’s most important day. 

As a restaurateur, you know all too well just how much time and effort you have put into hiring the right staff, creating an interesting menu, developing on-premise collateral, and selecting a location that is sure to drive butts in seats. Your team has countless hours invested.  Don’t allow your hard work to fall flat by missing the last crucial step: telling guests you exist! 

 1. “Build” excitement

Just like your operations, your restaurant marketing must start long before your grand opening.  Whether breaking ground on a new location or retro-fitting a building that already exists, make certain to post signage that your restaurant is coming soon.  This can be in windows or on chain-link fences surrounding the construction site.  Anytime a business closes or construction equipment makes an appearance, the community is curious.  Use that curiosity to your advantage by sharing information. 

 2. Be a good neighbor

Your real estate team spent a lot of time and effort putting your restaurants in thriving neighborhoods and schools or on a street with easy access to a busy office park.  Now take advantage of all their hard work. Attend events in your community, and go armed with information on your restaurant, opening dates and coupons that encourage trial. 

 3. Get social

Start creating a following on social media long before the opening.  Set aside a modest spend for paid social to geo-target the area.  Hint: 10.2 miles is the ideal proximity for restaurant marketing. Encourage people to LIKE/FOLLOW your pages and handles.  Then, provide regular updates on the progress.  And, depending on budgets, consider hosting a pre-opening event for social fans.   This is a great way to engage fans, as well as a soft opening for your staff to identify any necessary operational adjustments. 

 4. Alert the influencers       

Historically, the food and restaurant sections are among the most read in print and online versions of local papers.  Given this, it’s smart to make friends with those reporters. 

Invite these reporters and editors into your restaurant before you open,  for a “VIP” experience. Treat them to a free meal or and the opportunity to check out your new space and take photos. Invite everyone personally, send an invitation and follow up with phone calls.  If your restaurant has access to a local chef, offer a cooking segment on a local TV morning show to highlight the cuisine offered at your restaurant.  

These small but effective tips will ensure that you’ve created the proper buzz necessary to drive interest before, during and after your opening. 

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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Your Employee’s Are The “Front Line” of Your Restaurant Marketing

front lines .jpgCatering to the customer is not the only contributing factor that makes a restaurant successful.

Restaurant marketing is easy when you have happy friendly employees featured in your advertising. Your employees are the backbone of your restaurant, in order to keep your restaurant up and running smoothly you need to make sure you are being responsible for how it is being run.

Starting with:

  1. Core values and mission: Share the values and mission that you have for the brand with your employees. Without a brand image to uphold your employees won’t be able to properly connect with some of the tasks they are given because they won’t understand why they are being assigned them. Give your employees purpose! Share your core values and mission daily with staff, preferably before each shift begins. Remember, your values and mission should be brief, fine-tuned, and achievable by employees.
  1. Strong leadership: Hire managers that believe in the employees that they manage. Without great management your lower level employee members will feel disengaged with the restaurant and will not recognize the growth potential within the company. Avoid “panic hiring” these types of employees can bring bad habits and usually relate least to the company. Take time to research the latest trends in the workforce to ensure you are using the best hiring techniques. Recruiting is a great way to make sure that you get the best talent without having to wait for them to come to you. Utilize job sites and LinkedIn to recruit top talent in the restaurant industry.
  1. Employee recognition: When an employee does something above and beyond, recognize them! They will feel proud and work hard to maintain this recognition! This technique can be anything from a free meal, putting their photo up in the office or sharing the story on social media. Other employee’s will seek this same recognition!

A restaurant is successful because of the employees that you hire to interact with your customers every day. Showcase your employees in video advertisements, on social media, Domino’s is a great example of this. Their video advertisements show real employee’s doing what they do best, their job!

Your employees are the first form of advertising that customers see. When an employee leaves after their shift and goes to the mall in their branded shirt or uniform customers are still identifying the brand with them. Make sure your employees know to bring a spare change of clothes or something that hides the brand name, customers are always watching!

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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How to Target College Students Through Restaurant Marketing

Chicken and Waffles

A signature item can put your restaurant on the map.

The top 10 most recognized restaurants in college towns are not chains, shocker. In college towns all over America, students are flocking to mom and pop restaurants vs. going to a major chain. Why? Because they offer a more authentic and memorable experience.

If you are a chain restaurant it may be time to make a few tweaks to make your menu to help your brand stand out to the future of America.

Students want to go to a restaurant that they can identify with. You usually don’t see groups of college students walking into an upscale steakhouse on a Tuesday evening, and that is because the atmosphere is all wrong for them and not to mention their pockets probably aren’t very deep.

Aside from the “college student” atmosphere, that usually consists of foosball tables, dart boards, and pool tables these mom and pop restaurants offer something that sets them apart from all the others, a fair priced signature item.

A signature item could be an oversized burger, a specialty side, or a root beer that’s recipe can be traced back to 1895. These items help create a framework for the overall theme of the restaurant.

Having a signature item also gives a restaurant a talking point. It is a “call to action” in a way, because it drives people to a restaurant for a reason.

If you want to drive traffic to your restaurant, think of this first:

  1. Do you already have a popular item on your menu?
  2. Are you in a city where a signature item could set your menu apart from your competitors?
  3. Do you have the resources to create marketing materials or buzz around this item?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, you should begin discussing this option as a company and see if it aligns with your goals and values. If you answered “no” to all or any of these questions, do some experimenting. Bring in an expert chef to help provoke your chef’s thoughts on developing a signature item. Do some research in the area; what is driving people to your competitors?

College students won’t be the only customers you will tap into with this restaurant marketing method. You will see a variety of customers coming to your restaurant from singles, to families to see what all the “buzz” is about.

You never know where a signature item could take you. You could be lucky enough to end up on “Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives”, or be featured on a restaurant blog!

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Use Restaurant Marketing to Keep Your Customers Up-To-Date on Menu Changes

menu of the day.jpg

Your guests need to know when you make edits to your drink menu and food menu.

Is your craft beer selection changing by the hour or even faster? Are you hosting special events on a regular basis?

Then it’s time to keep your customers and fans up-to-date with exactly what’s going on at any given time. Nothing kills sales quicker than a group of friends showing up expecting a hard-to-find beer on tap only to find out the keg was kicked days before. Or a couple coming in on a date for a unique and seasonal menu item…and finding out you sold out of it yesterday.

Luckily, you’ve got a wide variety of technology options at your fingertips to inform, boost sales and (hopefully) make everyone happy all at the same time.

Let’s start with your food menu. Are you running a daily special? Maybe your chef finds something incredibly fresh and seasonal at your farmers’ market and wants to use it tonight. No problem. Hit up your usual social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with a quick post and an enticing image. Then, once it sells out, send out another quick post.

When it comes to something like your craft beer menu, the options open up even more. With apps and websites like Untappd, BeerMenus and TapHunter, you can create an account then easily post and update your menu on the fly. As kegs kick or as bottles and cans sell out and you put new ones on, send out an update! That way, you don’t have upset customers walking in then walking right back out when that keg of Zombie Dust they were expecting to find is gone.

Another way to maximize your beer sales through technology. Social media, of course. Hosting a tap takeover? Getting in the only keg of a super rare beer in your area? Create a Facebook event, tweet about it regularly in the days and weeks leading up to the day/night, Instagram the keg collar, add some paid support on Facebook in the form of sponsored posts, etc.

As each beer sells out during your event, post updates both in the event itself, as well as on your normal social channels.

Plus, every time you host any other special event, make sure you create a Facebook event then encourage your followers on Facebook to RSVP to the event. Post the event on your page when you initially create it, then once a week post a reminder for those who may not have seen it originally. And when you have updates for the event, post them in the event itself so anyone who has indicated they are going or interested will see the posts pop up in their Facebook notifications.

Keeping up with things as they happen may take some time and a little effort, but you are sure to see positivity in your bottom line in no time.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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How Social Media Can Influence Your Other Restaurant Marketing Efforts

Social media network concept.

Make it as easy as possible for your customers and fans to find you on social media.

How’s your social media presence looking? Is it where you want it to be or even where it should be? If you answered no to either part of that question, we’re here to lend a hand.

First things first, ensure all of your social accounts feature a full bio that is always up to date (think hours, location, address, website, etc.). Make it as easy as possible for your customers and fans to find you.

Give your fans a look behind the curtain. When posting on any social channel, the ideal engagement to conversion post ratio is 3:1. What that means is post recipes, sneak peeks into new menu items, inspiration videos and more 75% of the time and deals, today’s specials, etc. 25% of the time.

Now, with that said, you’ve got to formulate a consistent voice, tone and look for your brand. Keep it casual, keep it fun and keep it real. Even if you may be a fine dining restaurant or high-end cocktail bar, social media is the place to keep it more casual than formal, language-wise. And the same goes for photos – keep them bright, beautiful and well-composed. Nothing ruins a social post more than an out-of-focus, way-too-centered or just plain unattractive photo.

Next, pay attention to your mentions – good and bad!

It could be a bit overwhelming to respond to everyone that mentions you out there, but at the very least give positive mentions a like. A well-worded response or thank you may warrant a retweet or share from your customer, which can then increase your reach – so do that whenever you can.

But what about negative mentions? Strive to respond to those as quickly as possible. Nothing will sour a social media user more on your brand than ignoring them or even waiting too long (in their minds) to respond. Respond and try to resolve the issue before it may get out of hand.

One more thing to consider is how you are using promoted posts to your advantage. The days of posting organically on social without paying a dime to boost your posts are long gone. If you want to truly increase your reach and audience, you’ve got to invest even a little bit into promoting your posts.

As Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach™, says, “You do not need the same budget as Burger King to get results on social media.”

And finally, develop a regular posting cadence and stick to it. Stay fresh in your fans’ and followers’ minds and at the top of their timelines and News Feeds! When they’re looking for somewhere to go and something to do, eat and drink, be there when they need you most.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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How Food Waste Can Impact Your Restaurant Marketing

food-waste-636x424What your restaurant does with its food waste can impact foot traffic.

It is no secret that millennials and other folks are paying attention to sustainable restaurant practices such as composting, recycling, and farm to table meals. What you don’t realize is how much food waste you are creating that could be used towards another recipe!

According to the USDA, food waste represents 30%-40% of American’s food supply. If you’re like me then you found this number to be extremely high and concerning.

Restaurants in major metropolitan cities can be the first to make an impact in this category. Reducing the amount of waste that is generated can really help clean up the city. Especially in cities like New York where the garbage is usually just tossed out on the curb at the end of the night.

What can your restaurant do to help reduce this food waste percentage? I’m glad you asked.

Rethink menu items that feature food that us usually thrown away. An easy way to test this theory out before committing to it is making this “kitchen sink” the special of the day.

Use your employees: Let them judge this new dish first. Your employees know your restaurant menu well, give them a taste test and score sheet to honestly review the potential item. You want to make sure that your potential new dish item fits in on your menu!

Spread awareness: After doing your research share your knowledge with your followers on social media.

Instagram and Facebook are great for posting photos and small bios about the process you have gone through to reduce and reuse food waste.

Twitter is an important social media tool when it comes to spreading the word because you can easily attract food leaders and restaurant industry leaders by tweeting directly at them or using relevant hashtags. Make sure to position your restaurant as one that observes sustainable practices by retweeting articles or commenting on relevant Facebook conversations. All of these efforts could lead to the press picking up your story!

Remember that food waste is not gross, it is just the food you normally think you can’t use to create another item. Reusing food waste items will prove to your community that you are conscious of the environment and up-to-date on sustainable practices.

Even if your customers came to your restaurant before you began repurposing food waste it will give them a reason to try something new or talk about it with a friend!

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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